LAKE NOWHERE is a 51 minute modern film, created in a retro Grindhouse/VHS style. Prior to the short feature itself are several clips of things like a few fake Italian giallo style films (titled Sangue, Mysterio and Quando Il Fiume Scorre Rosso (easily translated as Blood, Mystery, and When the River Runs Red). There is also a small trailer for a supposed film called Harvest Man (very reminiscent of one of Creepshow’s most memorable characters Jordy Verill, who was played by Stephen King himself), and a hilariously campy advertisement for a beer called Wolf White -which does appear in the film Lake Nowhere itself.
The feature’s premise sounds simple. A group of friends arrive at a desolate lakeside cabin, they are stalked and murdered by a masked maniac whose lust for blood transcends our world. This age-old tale of senseless slaughter quickly spirals into the realm of supernatural horror and classic monster movies, as we learn the true power that lies within LAKE NOWHERE.
However it is in the unique execution that this film has its strength! The first thing the viewer notices is the feeling of being drawn into the past. The introduction to the feature through its trailers and an advertisement, make you feel like you are back in the 70’s/80’s watching an old cruddy VHS tape.
It felt like when I was a teenager and was given my first bootleg copy of Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles. I was excited and eager to view the film, mixed with a feeling of nostalgic joy!
We see our seven silly youths arrive at the cabin ready for some boisterous fun, obvious nudity, daft drinking games, and of course sex. Like any good slasher film (Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers being the two most popular to follow that train of thought incessantly) we see all the bells and whistles we can easily recognize , but still this is somehow different.
The killer’s technique of watching and waiting in concealment made me think of films like Rosemary’s Killer (aka The Prowler) and the notorious film Maniac. He stalks, patiently biding his time, awaiting the perfect moment to emerge. It is in Matthew Howk’s ability to show so much through a simple shot of his eyes that we get drawn into the killers world. His eyes appear lost, seeking, cold even, but nothing familiar or human perhaps. The makeup and simple costuming choices aid this and make him strange and unfamiliar to us.
We meet Alexis (Laura Hajek), Danny (Nathan Andrew Wright), Gary (Charles Gaskins), Mike (Oscar Allen), Clyde (Paul Joseph Gagnon), Gail (Melody Kology), and Bonnie (Wray Villanova); all seemingly easy going youthful people who just want a fun weekend at a cabin along with Bonnie’s little dog “Fozzie” -played by the adorable McDougall Deprey.
At first they do the normal things like chop wood, Danny goes for a freezing cold swim (even though a sign states clearly “SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK”, drink a few WOLF WHITE beers, and play games. Bonnie even takes little Fozzie for a walk and finds a graveyard in the woods. On one headstone is a passage and she reads it aloud – reminiscent of Ash reading from the Necronomicon, it gives us an eerie chill. She returns to the cabin, but Danny doesn’t.
They don’t even appear worried when Danny doesn’t return from his swim for quite some time and the darkness begins to fall. When Danny does finally return, he is naked, ice cold, and seemingly in a shock like trance.
And this is where this film takes flight!!
The film quickly changes from stalker in the woods creepy weirdness, to manic dog eating naked friend insanity. I LOVED IT! Danny psychopathically rampages through the house and is just nuts. His friends think he’s taken something and had a bad reaction (like the recent reports of ‘Bath Salts’ style lunacy in modern media) and both poor little Fozzie and his owner Bonnie are the first he attacks. As the rest feverishly fight and panic, the crazy continues at full speed and we begin to realize what our hidden stranger is capable of. He emerges at the right moments and is invincible like any slasher before him, but it is somewhat different as we come to realize he is inhuman.
There are several instances where we think someone has died, yet they haven’t, and seemingly wreak havoc in another scene a little later on. This all adds to the fun! As the tape seems to roll, the sound juts in and out and the quality increases and decreases in the film, we feel more like a visitor in a far gone cinematic era; viewing an old classic. This technique paired with R.S. Fitzgerald and Christopher Phelps’ well written script, along with Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy’s keen directing skills, create a visually spectacular and an easy to follow uniquely evolving plot.
Honorable mentions to both Wray Villanova and Nathan Andrew Wright who stand out in the film as crazed blood thirsty maniac Danny, and the innocent but intriguing Bonnie. Both nailed their roles with pure believability and realism. I also really enjoyed the score, provided by Ian Nichols and Stephen Phelps, which features a collection of songs that were perfect for the film. I really enjoyed the era themed song choices and felt it helped continue to familiarize the viewer with the intended nostalgia.
The closing scenes and the whole likeness to the mythology of the River Styx (coins on eyes of the dead and passage on the river) angle is explored with some modern twists.
We think it is over, but are unsure …will it ever be?
LAKE NOWHERE is available here from Brink Vision